At the other end of the scale, if you want to get that lovely open strummed feel which you hear a lot in folk, pop and country rock, a lighter pick is definitely worth a try.
The effect you’re after here is a softer initial attack, making all the strings sound balanced and pretty similar in volume. If you go very thin on your picks, you’ll find that the percussive element of the sound will start to seem louder than the chords themselves. Give it a try. In certain situations this can be beneficial. If you play with one or more other acoustic guitarists, one guitar playing in this way can provide a great percussive backdrop for the other two and prevent the sound from getting too 'mushy'.
As you progress and develop your own style, you’ll soon have a favourite pick. Oh, and we should mention, you will lose and misplace literally hundreds of them in your lifetime as a guitarist. We have tried to fathom where these things end up, but that remains one of life’s great mysteries!
Now onto using the plectrum in a strumming context. First, get used to holding the pick comfortably between the flat parts (not the tips) of your thumb and index (first) finger. Don’t clamp on to the thing to hard, make sure there’s a bit of give! Also resist the temptation to use your second finger to reinforce your grip as this will restrict movement. The space between your thumb and finger should resemble an eye shape.
Now position your strumming hand over the soundhole of your guitar. Your thumb should be pointing towards the neck. As you look down, you should be able to see all of your thumbnail, with the pick facing toward the soundhole (You don’t have to use the point of the pick to hit the strings with. Often, using the more rounded side of the pick will give a more resonant sound).
Your wrist should feel loose but controlled, hovering about 3cm above the guitar. There are several schools of thought as to whether the strumming motion should be powered by the arm, or the wrist, or both. we find that tempo is an important factor in this. For songs where slow strumming is employed, using your arm to give a broad brush stroke over the strings keeps the contact between pick and strings constant, resulting in a smoother sound.
For faster strumming styles, broad arm strokes won’t give you enough time to get back and forward over the strings, which could sound sloppy. A fluid wrist action will give a much more focused result. Once again, make sure that whichever way you strum, the wrist and arm remain tension free. Don’t become a casualty of the dreaded RSI!